Practices left without prescription pads after problems with outsourced service
Exclusive Practices are being left with dwindling reserves of vital business supplies after problems with newly outsourced primary care support services.
Pulse has heard of practices running low on FP10 forms and only receiving them at the ‘eleventh hour’ after two days of confusion, with practice managers spending hours chasing Primary Care Support England (PCSE) to secure urgent deliveries.
Capita, who won the national contract to provide primary care support services, has had to bring in additional staff to respond to emails after being inundated by practices trying to use its new website.
The disruption has affected other supplies, such as blood vials, and pharmacists have reported being unable to acquire paper prescription record ‘tokens’ which accompany electronic prescriptions.
The issue has been raised with GPC nationally and leaders say they have received assurances that PCSE, operated by Capita, has invested more resources to ensure the system works smoothly.
But senior GPs say this continues the ‘less than auspicious start’ for Capita’s new service
The struggles centre on Capita’s ‘online portal’ for practices to request supplies.
Dr Ian Hume, chair of the GPC practice finance subcommittee, told Pulse that practices had been facing problems lodging requests through the website and, as such, call centres were being inundated.
He said: ‘One understands people’s frustrations if you’ve had to sit on the phone for half an hour waiting to get through, which is sort of the time scale some people have had to wait for.’
Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the GPC, said: ’This is a national issue and I met with the PCSE team today to talk about it and the other problems they have been having including with poor call response times and record transfers. We were clear that the current situation is unacceptable and causing practice managers a significant amount of additional work as they try to resolve the problems.
‘They told us that they are taking urgent steps to address the many issues we raised today through additional capacity from next week and we’ll be meeting them again shortly to ensure that the service does improve.’
In the Midlands, Birmingham LMC executive secretary Dr Robert Morley told Pulse practices had been impacted by supply issues and a ‘gamut’ of issues around the new support services system.
Dr Morley said: ’All sorts of our practices have had various problems with the new system, maybe it’s all down to teething problems but it’s not a very auspicious start unfortunately, and we can only hope that things will be solved.’
Dr Matt Picaver, a GP partner in Suffolk, told Pulse he had experienced delays.
‘We had about a day’s worth of prescriptions left by Friday, which would have meant patients would not have been able to have their medications after that.’
However, he added, the practice received ten boxes of prescription pads last thing on Friday.
A Capita spokesperson told Pulse: ’We are closely monitoring our operation while the new services are embedding and have arrangements in place to respond and address users’ feedback. We are working closely with NHS England and proactively engaging key stakeholders, including the GPC, so we can continue to refine and improve the service.’
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Capita was awarded the support services contract after a full compeitive tender by NHS England as it sought to shave 40% from its £100m a year primary care support services budget.
Pulse has revealed how practices were forced to put up with ’significant and unpredictable disruption’ before the new contract even began, as the old network of local offices was rolled up.
The move to outsource services has already seen practices boycott a labour intensive ‘secure’ system for transferring patient records.